Brainstorming on the Beach: How Vacationing Leads to Breakthroughs

Guest Post by Allison RiceBrainstorming ideas

Did you know that you’re more likely to come up with breakthrough ideas if you’re on vacation than if you’re in your home office doing business as usual? Taking off time from your business and getting outside your daily routine is not only important for work/life balance, but it’s proven to be beneficial to innovation in your business.

Here are some tips on how to generate your best brainstorming, and what to do with those ideas once you’re back in your home office.

Choose a Setting That Inspires You.

Are you a mountain or a beach person? Choose a vacation spot that sparks your inner muse. You don’t have to take a whole week off or plan an expensive, exotic trip to get out of your comfort zone; consider a weekend getaway.

Keep a Notebook.

Studies have shown that writing down our ideas reduces stress and promotes well-being, in addition to being a fantastic way to come up with breakthrough ideas. Pick out a notebook that speaks to your personal style, and choose a high-quality pen. Even if you’re more comfortable with a tablet than an old-fashioned notebook, writing by hand might lead you to discover new ideas (plus, without the temptation to check email). If you get in the habit of spending ten or fifteen minutes writing down your uncensored thoughts every day (try right after you wake up, over coffee), chances are you’ll unleash some innovative ideas.

Pick up a Book.

Is there a leader in your field that you admire? Bring a biography to the mountains or the beach to learn what makes your personal hero tick. While you’re at it, consider picking up a book on the creative process; choreographer Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life contains over thirty practical exercises to help get your creative juices flowing, whatever your professional background may be. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s bestselling Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience is a fascinating glimpse into what makes highly productive individuals able to get into the “zone” of creativity.

Take a Hike.

Some of our best ideas happen while we’re in motion: walking, hiking, swimming, skiing. Exploring a new setting might even spark new ideas. And if you’re ever feeling stuck, the best thing to do is to take a walk.

Create a Mood Board.

When you get back to your home office, transform your bulletin board into a “mood board” with inspiring quotes and images that speak to your imagination. You can make the mood board specific to a particular project you’re working on, or it can just be a place to store ideas that resonate with your business philosophy.

Find a Brainstorming Buddy.

To ensure that your ideas become reality once you’re back in your office, entrust a fellow business owner with your new ideas. You could even form an informal group, or a personal learning network, to have regular lunch dates where you share ideas in an anything-goes, no holds barred fashion. If you create a safe environment where even the most outrageous ideas can be shared, you could be on the road to serious breakthroughs. Plus, studies show that collaborating makes good ideas even better.

Where’s your dream vacation spot? Is there an inspiring place nearby that you could visit to get your creativity flowing?

Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Allison regularly contributes to the Small Business Know-How blog.


  1. Wow, this came just as I am leaving for a warm vacation in Southern Florida! I depart tomorrow. You’ve given me some good ideas about using the time to relax and perhaps unleash my creativity. No hiking, but lots of walking…thanks for sharing these good thoughts!
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